St. Andrews Alumna Provides Comfort K9’s in Surfside, Florida

Written by Lee Anne Hanke

St. Andrews Alumna Provides Comfort K9’s in Surfside, Florida


Surfside, FL – Heather Jenkins Brazzell, a St. Andrews Alumna class of ‘93, serves as director for the southeast region of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, an organization that offers trained and certified dog and handler teams to provide emotional comfort and support to people affected by crises and disasters. HOPE AARC’s mission is to provide comfort and encouragement through animal-assisted support to individuals affected by crises and disasters. The organization has been serving people affected by disasters and traumatic events, free of charge, since 2001.

Earlier in July, volunteers from HOPE AARC, along with their furry canine companions, made their way down to Surfside, Florida following the condominium collapse. Brazzell shared that it was a privilege to lead a small group of canines to provide comfort to any that were in need.

Heather Brazzell –

“The community was amazing. If police or people needed a thing, they got it. If law enforcement asked for clothes or equipment, for example, law enforcement had it within the hour. They ran a 24-hour kosher kitchen to feed law enforcement, first responders, the community, and victim’s families. The goal was to create a sanctuary at the rec center for anyone and everyone. I am still wrapping my head around it. They were grateful for my groups’ dogs to provide comfort to any. The hospitality was amazing. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything like it. I deployed with my dog to the Navy Yard shooting and without a dog to the UNC shooting. I have been to Red Cross shelters after floods. This was so different.”